burning the burnout dream
Written in May 2022; edited July 2022.
In this season of life, I’ve found myself returning to the pits of despair — struggling to maintaining the many spinning plates, on top of not understanding what these plates even are, and why we’re spinning them so fast. I am disappointed in myself for getting to this point, frustrated that it feels like de-ja-vu, and weary because I feel like I'm constantly in fight mode.
My life is a gold star example of when work overrides its place. For me, running on coffee only till the afternoon, the long hours, and the weight of my critical spirit and the expectations of others has just crushed me. I feel numb to everything, and I don’t want to deal with anything.
“It’s too much,” she yells. “I’m only human and I have limits.”
It’s days like this, that I wish I could be anyone else.
This is a hopeful story
I’ve reflected about sharing the brutality of above. Is it wise to share the extent of my struggle? I’m an adult, in a position of leadership for church, and I work in corporate. This is what I signed up for — right?
But as I think through this, it’s actually a hopeful story.
I’m really thankful for God’s kindness to me even when it feels like I'm treading water. I have hope knowing this isn’t the end, and the miracle of Jesus means my identity isn’t determined by my shortcomings and mistakes.
I’ve always been compelled to change or get help when I see my actions affect those closest to me. So for instances, this season has been very hard on my family. But I’ve also started to realise that I also need to get help because I must honour God’s commandment and that I’m no less than a human to my ‘neighbours’. God sees my worth — not by anything I’ve done, but who He is as the Creator. We see this ultimately displayed in Jesus, who died for the ungodly.
My emotions have been a good compass (but not master) in situations like this. I often gaslight myself, saying I’m doing fine when clearly that’s not the case. In this season, it is quite clear that I’m not coping and this is not sustainable at all. I must honour my limits, submitting to the truth that I am not God, and I can’t be everything to everyone.
Don’t drop the glass ball
One of the best analogies I’ve heard about juggling different things is that you will drop the ball — it’s whether you drop the plastic or glass one. For me, I’ve just been non-stop running around making sure I drop nothing. I trust more in my intellect and work ethic to get things done, than my character and who I am in the eyes of the ultimate boss. So if that’s the case, it means I have to work to the bone and always be switched on, and have ideas and solutions… etc. What human is like this?
Even Jesus didn’t even work to prove himself, when people asked him to prove his abilities. Even at his impending death on the cross, the crowd yelled “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!”(Luke 23:25).
Jesus knew he needed to continue and follow the will of his Father. He was faithful.
Upon reflection, I’ve realised that perhaps I am not as faithful as I thought I was. Maybe I’m not as secure in my capabilities as I thought I was.
What I know for sure is that this isn’t a moment of glory or how great I am for pushing myself to my limits. We need not to glorify burn out, but need to honour the wisps, and stomp it out before it burns everything down.